Active Time: 35 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours 35 Minutes
Yield: Makes 18 small sandwiches; serves 6
|1 1/4 lb spinach, tough stems removed|
|1/4 lb gorgonzola cheese, crumbled|
|Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg|
|salt and freshly ground pepper|
|2 cups water|
|2 cups chicken stock|
|1 teaspoon salt|
|1 cup polenta or coarsely ground yellow cornmeal|
|2 tablespoons unsalted butter|
|1/3 cup freshly grated Italian parmesan cheese|
|1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, 1/2 lb, cut into slices 1/2 inch thick, then torn into quarters|
|vegetable oil for deep-frying|
|1 cup all-purpose flour|
|1/2 cup water|
|1 cup fine dried bread crumbs|
|Tomato-basil sauce, warmed|
FOR FILLING: Rinse the spinach, but do not dry. Place in a saucepan over medium-low heat, cover and cook, turning occasionally, until wilted, 2-4 minutes. Drain the spinach and squeeze to remove the liquid. Chop coarsely and place in a bowl. Add the Gorgonzola, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to mix well.
FOR POLENTA: In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the water, stock and salt. Bring to a simmer. Sprinkle in the polenta or cornmeal in a slow, thin stream, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to very low and cook, stirring every 1-2 minutes, until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan and the grains have begun to soften, 15-20 minutes total. Stir in the butter and Parmesan and remove from the heat.
Rinse a 6-by-9-inch roasting pan with water and shake out the excess. Working quickly and using a spatula repeatedly dipped in very hot water, evenly spread half of the polenta into the pan. Spread the filling over the polenta and distribute the mozzarella evenly over the filling. Spread the remaining polenta over the filling. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for at least 2 hours at room temperature or for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
TO SERVE: Cut the polenta into eighteen 1-by-3-inch “sandwiches.” In a large, heavy saucepan, pour in vegetable oil to a depth of about 4 inches and heat to 375 degrees F. on a deep-frying thermometer. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Place the bread crumbs in a third bowl. Ease the sandwiches out of the pan and gently dredge in the flour, coating evenly. Carefully shake off the excess, dip both sides in the egg mixture, then coat with the bread crumbs. When the oil is hot, carefully slip 6 sandwiches into the hot oil and deep-fry until deeply golden, 4-5 minutes. Nudge occasionally with a slotted spoon to ensure they brown evenly. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches in 2 batches.
Spoon a small pool of the tomato-basil sauce on each plate, place the sandwiches on top and serve at once.